Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Costs build up for presents, food, alcohol-even Christmas cards do not come cheap.
Because the costs are higher than your usual expenses, many people put these items on credit, leaving the thinking until the new year on how to pay. But if you want to avoid starting the New Year in debt here are some very simple things that can help you save money.
Start a savings plan right now
Some prepared people start saving for Christmas at the beginning of the year to avoid being hit with all the costs at once. There is still 3 months left till Christmas; that is 3 months where you could be putting extra money away to help. Whether it be hiding it in a cookie jar, or opening a savings account which earns you interest do not dismiss how much this could help. Even if you put $50 away each week from today, that equates to $550 before the day.
Many people do not know about the forgotten option of Layby. Layby simply means you can purchase an item with a small deposit and regularly pay it off in a certain period (this is usually over a couple of months). This could be especially helpful if you have a lot of presents to buy. It also means that you can purchase items during sale times before Christmas rather than paying for the full priced items which occurs around that period.
Do Secret Santa
Many people would have experienced the concept of Secret Santa or Kris Kringle if they have ever been in a workplace. Try using this for your families instead of having to buy every cousin, aunt, uncle and grandma a pressie. Set a price tag limit so that everyone understands the amount you should be paying and put everyone’s names in a hat. Each person picks out one name and buys a present for that person which is exchanged on the day. This means everyone receives a present but your pockets haven’t been emptied in the process. Last year we decided to do this for all the adults, but we still all bought small gifts for the kiddies.
Stockpile alcohol now
Alcohol can be one of the most expensive items bought over Christmas especially if you are hosting or attending multiple gatherings. Everyone likes to have a drink or two over this festive time and unfortunately in some cases (like my family) the more expensive the wine the better you look. Start buying up booze gradually and look for specials that occur in the off peak seasons. Buying a couple of bottles or a case here and there will save you a bill of hundreds of dollars before the day.
Get everyone to bring a plate
Every family is different in how they like to celebrate Christmas Day. Every year we go to my aunt’s house and have a formal sit down 3 course lunch. But why not try something different? Christmas is meant to be a relaxing, enjoyable time but it often is not for the hosts. Get everyone to bring a plate of food and try having a buffet occasion. This saves costs, everyone can try a variety of food they like, and you can focus on spending time with your family rather than being chained to the kitchen.
Companies like Chrisco and Castle Hampers allow you to pay a small amount each week towards a bundle of food and drink goods. There are a range of packages to suite your budget and needs whether it is a full Christmas meal or add-ons like a range of chocolates, soft drinks or alcohol such as beer. This allows you to budget for you Christmas meals throughout the year. Castle Hampers also has a wide range of goods and gifts you can apply the same principle to (they even have the IPhone 5 on there). This means for bigger purchases you can gradually save and contribute towards it-great for those big presents your kids might expect.
Whatever strategy you use anything to avoid using credit and building up debt is a good one. Avoid getting bogged down in the costs so that you can enjoy the break and have a stress free, fun time with your families.
Most of all it means you can start the new year afresh and not in debt!